Eagles

Eagles fans, don't blame Mike Groh for offensive mess

Eagles fans, don't blame Mike Groh for offensive mess

Mike Groh has gotten absolutely crushed by media and fans this year because of the Eagles’ terrible offensive performance.

I haven’t seen an Eagles assistant coach roasted like this since Dana Bible in 1998.

Bible was fired halfway through the season and replaced by Bill Musgrave, who may have been even worse.

That was 20 years ago.

Groh is an easy target. For a few reasons.

He replaced Frank Reich as Eagles offensive coordinator after the Super Bowl, and Reich is a pretty popular guy around here these days.

Reich's contributions last year helped the Eagles overcome the loss of Carson Wentz and win a Super Bowl with Nick Foles and then earned him a head coaching job with the Colts, where he’s now a Coach of the Year candidate with a high-flying offense that closely resembles the Eagles’ 2017 unit.

So Groh, the Eagles' receivers coach last year, is replacing not only a very popular coach who helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl but one whose offense in Indy has been far more productive than the Eagles' unit this year.

And, honestly, Groh hasn’t helped himself. 

He’s vague, distant and sometimes condescending in his weekly press conferences. Which really shouldn’t matter, but it’s the only glimpse of Groh’s personality that fans see, and unlike Reich — who was warm, funny and insightful in interviews — Groh does not come across well.

His comment a couple weeks ago that, “It’s been challenging to integrate” Golden Tate into the offense obviously did not go over well. Understandably. It was clearly accurate but did not reflect well on Groh and the coaching staff.

But consider Reich's history.

He was fired by the Colts after the 2011 season, by the Cards after the 2012 season and by the Chargers after the 2015 season.

And nobody was calling Reich a genius in 2016, when the Eagles averaged 20.8 points per game, converted 38 percent of their third downs and averaged 337 yards per game. 

Those numbers in Reich's first year as offensive coordinator are very similar to the Eagles' numbers in Groh's first year — 20.9 points, 39 percent of their third downs, 354 yards per game. 

So if you're going to call Groh a lousy coach because of the offense's performance in these 11 games, you have to call Reich a lousy coach, too.

But really the point of all this isn’t a defense of Groh. That’s not really the issue.

The point is that if you’re looking for a scapegoat for the Eagles’ lackluster offense, you’re blaming the wrong guy.

This is Doug Pederson’s team. This is Doug Pederson’s offense.

He created the offense. He puts together the game plan. He defines the players’ roles. He calls the plays. 

This isn’t to say Groh is going to turn into a genius overnight and get a head coaching job in a couple years and become a Coach of the Year candidate like Reich.

It’s that Pederson is ultimately responsible for everything that happens when the offense is on the field. 

The Eagles’ offense has been horrible this year. We can all agree on that.

The Eagles have surpassed 25 points only once, and it was against the Giants' 25th-ranked defense. They’re averaging a pathetic 20 points per game at home, their worst in 20 years — since that nightmarish Bible-Musgrave season that got Ray Rhodes and everybody else fired. They haven’t scored more than 21 points yet in back-to-back games.

Groh is certainly a piece of that. So is every offensive player and coach in the building.

But if you want someone to blame? 

Think back to 2016. Did you want Reich fired? Of course not.

Yet my Twitter feed from the last few days is filled with literally hundreds of calls for Groh to be fired. Immediately.

Pederson’s team. Pederson's offense. Pederson's scheme. Pederson's plays.

And when you look at how this offense has underachieved and underperformed the last three months?

Stop blaming Groh, and point your finger right at Doug Pederson.

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Add Ronald Darby to the list of injured Eagles

Add Ronald Darby to the list of injured Eagles

Starting cornerback Ronald Darby popped up on the Eagles’ injury report Friday with a hip flexor strain and is questionable for the Eagles’ game Sunday against the Redskins.

Darby wasn’t on the injury report Wednesday or Thursday and was a full participant in practice. He’s listed as a limited participant on Friday, which likely means he either got hurt during practice or an injury he suffered Monday night against the Giants got worse.

In either case, it’s yet another injury for an injury-riddled team. The only defensive players to start all 13 games are Malcolm Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Rodney McLeod.

The Eagles do have some depth at cornerback, since they’re carrying seven corners on the 53-man roster.

Jalen Mills is expected to be OK for Sunday after hurting his elbow in the Giants game. He was a full participant on Friday after being limited on Thursday.

Rasul Douglas would likely be the starter opposite Mills if Darby can’t play. Douglas has started 17 games in his three-year career, including five earlier this year.

Avonte Maddox can play outside but has been in the slot for the nine games he’s been healthy, averaging 46 snaps per game. Sidney Jones, who started four games earlier this year, is also available. Cre’Von LeBlanc is being brought back slowly after being on IR most of the year, and Craig James hasn’t played a defensive snap in nearly two months.

Darby missed half of the 2017 season with an ankle injury, half of last year with a torn ACL and four games earlier this year with a hamstring injury. He’s played only 29 of a possible 50 games since he got here in the summer of 2017.

The Eagles have don’t have a cornerback who’s played defense in every game this year. They’ve used eight different combinations of starting corners in 13 games.

The Eagles signed the 25-year-old Darby to a one-year contract worth $6.5 million. He has two interceptions in nine starts.

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Eagles vs. Redskins 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

Eagles vs. Redskins 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

The Eagles (6-7) are visiting the Redskins (3-10) at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon. 
 
Here’s everything you need to know:  

•12 p.m.: Eagles Pregame Live on NBCSP
•1 p.m.: Eagles at Redskins on FOX 
•4 p.m.: Eagles Postgame Live on NBCSP 
•10 p.m.: Birds Outsiders on NBCSP 
 
The FOX broadcast crew for this game is Thom Brennaman (play by play), Chris Spielman (analyst) and Shannon Spake (sideline). You can also stream the game on FuboTV.
 
Merrill Reese, Mike Quick and Howard Eskin will have the call on 94WIP. 
 
The Eagles opened as 6-point favorites in some places but that has slipped to around 4 1/2 points. The over/under is 39. 

The referee for Eagles-Redskins is second-year referee Shawn Smith. This is his first game reffing an Eagles game. The Eagles were 2-1 with him as an umpire in 2016 and 2017. 

Keep it going

The Eagles got off to a terrible start against the Giants last week before they turned it around, scoring the last 20 points of the game and getting a huge overtime win. So which team shows up on Sunday? The team that fell behind 17-3 to the Giants or the team that rallied to a win? 

It’ll be key for the Eagles to find what works for Carson Wentz in this game a little earlier. They got him into rhythm last week, but that didn’t happen until the third drive of the third quarter. 

No receivers left 

The Eagles began the season with DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. That was nice for that one game. Going into Week 15, with Agholor’s status uncertain, the Eagles’ top three receivers might be J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Rob Davis. Not exactly what the Eagles had in mind this offseason. 

A rookie QB 

The last time the Eagles faced Washington, in the opener, Case Keenum was the starter. So this will be their first time facing rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. While the Redskins have won two of three, they’re still a mess of an organization, so who knows what the future holds for Haskins. They have an interim coach and it’s possible the next head coach will want to pick his quarterback, which could leave Haskins in limbo. But there’s also a possibly Haskins is still their long-term QB. It’ll be interesting to see what happens down there.  

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